The Greenwood Commonwealth
The Picayune Item
This “open-carry” law, which was supposed to take effect today, has drawn the concern of law enforcement officers around Mississippi. They rightly worry that they and the general public will be at greater risk because there will be few limitations on people carrying visible weapons, as opposed to the permit required for carrying a concealed weapon.
The open-carry bill easily got through the House and Senate earlier this year, but a Jackson lawmaker who voted for it has changed his mind. On Friday, arguing the law will create a “wild West” situation, Sen. John Horhn joined with several Hinds County authorities to win a statewide injunction in circuit court to block the law from taking effect at least until a July 8 hearing.
Injunction or not, the public can expect to start seeing signs posted in businesses stating that weapons, whether visible or concealed, are not allowed on the property. And various city and county authorities will probably continue to take steps to bar weapons from those public buildings where the open-carry law allows discretion.
The Attorney General’s Office wrote an opinion of the new law for the Tate County sheriff a couple of weeks ago.
Since their job is to envision worst-case scenarios, it’s easy to see the potential problems of the open-carry law. By their thinking, anybody determined to cause trouble no longer will have to go to the trouble of hiding a gun. And squabbles will more likely turn deadly if adversaries are armed, since there will be less time for cooler heads to prevail.
The open-carry law needs to be repealed, either by judicial order or legislative remorse. But if it stays on the books, maybe it won’t result in a proliferation of openly armed citizens. Wearing a gun on your hip, say lawmen, is uncomfortable. Some privately predicted — or hoped — that after a couple of weeks of open carry, even the most ardent gun owners who don’t have a concealed-weapon permit would put their guns back in their cars or their homes.
Let’s hope they are right.